History of the Peninsular War by Robert Southey, Three Volume Set, First Editions Published 1823, 1827, and 1832

Southey, Robert. History of the Peninsular War. London: John Murray, 1823, 1827, 1832. First editions. Three volume set. Original front boards, rebuked in matching calf and new spines, and presented in custom slipcase.

This is a first edition, three volume set of Robert Southey’s History of the Peninsular War. All three volumes were published in London by John Murray, in 1823, 1827, and 1832 respectively. The original 19th century front boards have been conserved, rebacked in matching brown calf leather with new gold-tooled spines. The set is housed in a new, archival slipcase with ribbon.

Robert Southey (1774-1843) was a famous British poet and writer. One of the “Lake Poets,” Southey was good friends with William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, and   the author was appointed Poet Laureate in 1813. Like many of his contemporaries, Southey had an early poetic bent, interspersed with journalism, followed by a shift to prose in his later years. Southey wrote several popular biographies and was known for his historical accounts, including this History of the Peninsular War. Southey was an accomplished scholar of Spanish and Portuguese history and studied these topics in depth at Oxford. 

The Peninsular War lasted from 1808 - 1814 and concerned the Napoleon Empire and Bourbon Spain, backed by Portugal and Great Britain. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, the two powers were fighting for control over the important Iberian Peninsula. After Napoleon marched into Spain and Portugal, putting his Continental System into effect against Great Britain, the Spanish rose up in opposition of Napoleon’s brother and appointed ruler. Backed by the British, the forces fought against the French to eventually win Spanish independence, raise military prestige for Britain, and make the fortunes of Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington. By the end of the war, it proved to be the bloodiest war in modern Spanish history, including their own civil wars. This series details the impactful war and all its events including abdications, war strategies, and social effects all through the voice of a prolific 19th century writer.


Age appropriate condition, retaining the original front boards, which show signs of wear. Beautifully rebacked in matching calf. The new spine has hand-tooled gilt motifs, gilt lettering, and five raised bands. Some scattered foxing throughout and light soiling along the top. Marbled edges, matching the end pages. A 1915 newspaper clipping from the New York Times is inside the cover of Volume I, describing a journalist’s tour of the French Army on the Western Front.

The custom built archival slipcase holds all three volumes. Brown cloth with an inlaid portrait of Robert Southey on the front, with a ribbon inside for easy and safe access to the books.

Dimensions: 11.5” H x 9.25” W x 7.25” D (all three volumes with slipcase).

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